This award is sponsored by Western Sydney University (WSU) and will enable exceptional students from the United States to undertake research of importance to the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Australia.
To learn more about this grant and other Fulbright U.S. Student grant opportunities to Australia, please visit the Australia country summary.
Alex Anderson, 2014-2015, China, working on one of his ceramic sculptures in the studio
During my Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant, I spent 10-months at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where I studied ink painting and was an artist-in-residence in the ceramics department. Considering art as a reflection of the interior world of its maker, it allowed for a clear and genuine lens into the specific interests, psychologies, and motivations of the people in my studio during this period. Prior to my time in China, I had not considered art as a tool for cultural exchange, but the questions that sourced from discussions of each person’s work often moved from the work itself to considerations of its place in contemporary art in China, America, and beyond.
People seemed to view my work and me as equally viable specimens for inspection of what it means to be an American and what American art looks like. There was an interest in the way work was rendered, comments surrounding its content, and discussions of its aesthetic that ultimately led to dialogues about what it means to be an American and the fact that there is no universal definition, as America is an immigrant, hybrid nation. In this respect, art became my primary means of creating mutual understanding and serving as a cultural ambassador. The first question people would ask when they walked through the studio was, “Who made this?” followed by “Where is he from?” These questions opened up spaces for further dialogue around the intersection of Chinese and American art, and sometimes led to discussions of the intersection of China and America.
Carmen Román, 2015-2016, Peru, sitting in front of the chapel at Hacienda Arona in Cañete
Friday night I was invited to the U.S. Embassy in Lima for a live viewing of the soccer match between the United States and Peru. I was expecting a small gathering but as I walked up to the Embassy, I noticed a long line outside. I asked the guy at the end of the line what the line was for, and he responded: “To view the soccer match!” I lined up behind him. He turned around and said, “You need an invitation.” I assured that him I had one.
Apparently, 180 people had been invited, including the national press and local students learning English. As I passed through security, I could hear the vibrant sounds of the Batucada playing in the background and of course, I did a little samba–– an upbeat dance of Brazilian origin performed during Carnival parades.
As I walked in, I felt like a queen. This was the place were my parents had come more than twenty-five years ago to ask for a Visa to purse their American dream. I remember hearing about bank statements and other paperwork they had to bring; I imagined my dad sitting, nervously awaiting his turn. And now, here I am more than two decades later, walking the same grounds as an American, invited to this private event.
Minh Tuyet Bui, 2013-2015, Vietnam (center), performs her dance “Dreamer’s Café” with Heidi Stonier and Bryan Wilson at the Center for Modern Dance Education, New Jersey.
My dance/movement journey started in 2010 when I read the book Dance as a Healing Art by Anna Halprin. To this day, I am grateful for her spirit and wisdom. It empowered me to cross the ocean on a Fulbright grant to become a Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) student in the United States at Sarah Lawrence College.
After 10 years of experience in education, I have observed that the teaching methods currently in use in Vietnam cause students to suffer. Students are rarely encouraged to observe, ask questions or think critically in order to make their own decisions. In an ideal environment, students must learn inner leadership, personal responsibility, and self-discovery. They should add value to the world by playing a part in it. In this respect, traditional education is failing.
By experiencing my own body through movement and applying this experience in teaching, I see how creative movement empowers students to develop personality and strengthen their inner leadership. In one of my classes, “Movement with Nature,” I guided children to make physical contact and engage all the senses with a tree. Students pay attention to feelings, emotions and images stimulated by their contact with the tree, then are asked to dance with the tree and find their relationship to it. The tree is in you and you are in the tree. After that, they draw the tree and write about their experience. Children identify with nature by projecting themselves into the form of a tree through movement. From this process, they can obtain rich insights and meaningful connections to their life needs. One shy girl shared, “My tree is scared to sleep alone.” Another said, “My tree doesn’t like being hit.” Another child saw the trees as endless, a home that offered strength and safety. “I am here if you need help” her tree said.
Thinking of applying to Fulbright in the Creative and Performing Arts and wonder how the program can influence your career? Listen to Brian Rutenberg, Fulbright U.S. Student alumnus, describe how his time in Ireland on his grant continues to inform his work. Want to learn more about the application and requirements? Attend tomorrow’s webinar at 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET. For further details, click here.
Derrell Acon, 2013-2014, Italy, performing “Da Dove Viene La Black Art” at the American University of Rome
And so it all began with an email stating that I had been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student grant. I would present on Black American Art while I researched operas by Giuseppe Verdi in Italy. I arrived in the country with wide eyes ready to buckle down on my research and tailor my Black Art presentations. Almost immediately, however, it became clear that it was not only about my projects. I could sense from the very beginning that I would be changed as a person. As an opera singer, I have traveled throughout the world quite often, but I have never lived in a place with a different culture and language for as extended a period of time as I did in Italy. From registering with the cities in which I would live to grocery shopping, to my one-on-one voice coachings with an Italian maestro who did not speak a touch of English, I slowly let the culture of the place wash over me. Time allowed me to notice subtleties in the language and the ways in which people interacted with one another. I began to gauge what was important in Italian culture and what was nonchalantly commonplace.
With the help of some old friends in Novafeltria, I first translated my Black Art lecture-recital into Italian (save the singing and poetry) and then contacted different venues that might host me. I performed “Da Dove Viene La Black Art” at places as awesome as the Liceo Leonardo da Vinci in Milan and the American University of Rome to a very packed audience. On the research side of things, I traveled to many beautiful cities seeking materials on the Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. I attended lectures, operas, concerts, festivals, and so on to collect as much information as I could about the historic composer’s life and his music. I returned to the U.S. with hundreds of pages of notes and many great recordings.